Platform: Atari ST and Commodore Amiga
John Phillips was a brilliant developer who created classics such as Nebulus and Eliminator, and was to extend his exciting catalogue of games with a new title called Scavenger for Hewson software back in 1990.
The idea of the game was to be a time travel title, and scrolled horizontally with a series of puzzles that had to be solved. Later though, it is documented that the game evolved into a sort of 3D version of Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, utilizing a sophisticated shadowing effect (which you must check out in the video below!).
A rough story suggests that you have been banished to wander the time lanes for the rest of your life, but discover a way that may allow you to get home. By taking key items from one level and taking them to another zone, the game would allow you to open a path home – but not before having to deal with a series of deadly creatures in your path.
Magazines of the time showed a very neat looking Egyptian-themed level, which were depicted as early graphics for the game. It doesn’t seem to be a mock up, as the sprites seem to be slightly different in each shot.
According to The One magazine, Hewson decided to cancel the game when they felt it wasn’t possible to produce a game using the method John had come up with that could justify a full price tag. Slightly odd decision perhaps, and hopefully we can find out from John himself some day. It has been disputed that Hewson may not have cancelled it.
Did anything has survived of the title, and if it got any further than what seems to have been just a technical demo. Was it also a puzzler, or did it turn into an action orientated game instead?
Well, thanks to Grzegorz Antosiewicz, it seems a very early demo version on the Atari ST has long been floating around. Overall, it feels quite advanced but still with plenty of work to do and add to the game. Thanks to Kevin Chamberlain (whose brother is friends with JMP), it seems that the demo may have been done for ST Format and confirmed that the game only ever got to a demo stage overall.
Here is a video of it running:
As you can see, it has plenty of promise, which makes its cancellation even more tragic. But was there perhaps also an Amiga version doing the rounds, or would Scavenger been done first on the Atari ST and then later converted to the Amiga?
Hopefully some day we’ll get hold of John himself to shed more light on the project.
With thanks to Karl Kuras for the submission and scans, Grzegorz Antosiewicz for highlighting the Atari ST edition out there already and additional scans, Ross Sillifant for the corrections and Kevin Chamberlain for the additional info.